Not Such a Happy Meal as Workers File Suit Against McDonald’s for Unsafe Working Conditions

Source: Jonathan Weiss - 123RF

A group of 17 Chicago-area McDonald’s workers, backed by the labor group Fight for $15, has filed a lawsuit accusing the company of negligence when it comes to the safety of workers in its stores. 

The lawsuit details situations that the fast-food outlet workers say compromised their safety, including customers pulling guns on workers and throwing items.

The suit also alleges that there is a “citywide and nationwide pattern” of violence in McDonald’s stores and argues that profit-focused corporate decisions are compromising workers’ safety. 

According to OH&S, The lawsuit focuses on 13 McDonald’s restaurants in the Chicago area, both corporate- and franchise-owned. The allegations address the concern that the company has been made aware of the numerous threats to employee safety but have neglected to address them in recent months and years.

Incidents range from customer threats with weapons, disruptive customers, and even deaths. One case even mentions how a customer reportedly urinated on a worker.

Sonia Acuña, a McDonald’s worker and plaintiff in the suit, said in a press release, “Police found a dead body in my store’s bathroom—there was blood everywhere. McDonald’s never provided any safety training or offered any support for the trauma I’ve suffered. We shouldn’t have to put ourselves in harm’s way just to support our families. That’s why we’re suing McDonald’s today—because it’s life or death for us.”

The chain has been the focus of a recent wave of sexual harassment lawsuits. On November 12, a worker filed a $5 million lawsuit against the company for failing to address a “systematic problem” of harassment.

Additionally, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook was fired over his relationship with an employee.

Workers also allege that staying open late at night and early into the morning “put(s) thousands of workers at risk due to the high levels of violence associated with late-night retail.”

In response, the company issued the following statement:

“McDonald’s takes seriously its responsibility to provide and foster a safe working environment for our employees, and along with our franchisees, continue to make investments in training programs that uphold safe environments for customers and crew members. In addition to training, McDonald’s maintains stringent policies against violence in our restaurants.” 

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